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Full text of "White, A. L. Difference in Doctrinal Views held by Uriah Smith and James White: King of the North (1966)"

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Ellen G. White Publications 
Office Document 



Prepared by: Arthur L. White 

Inquiry is made concerning conflicting doctrinal views as they may 
have been held by Uriah Smith and James White. Really, there were very 
few such points. James White and Uriah Smith worked very closely through 
the years and I think on essential points they saw eye to eye. 

For a review of Smith's views on certain doctrinal points, I would 
direct you to "Synopsis of Present Truth," by Elder Uriah Smith, publish- 
ed in 188H. This was an outgrowth of a series of lectures given at Bib- 
lical Institutes in various parts of the country. There is another work 
published, and that is a report of the Biblical Institute held in Oakland 
in 1878. James White and Uriah Smith were the two leading teachers in 
this institute, and if you give a little study to this volume (The Bibli- 
cal Institute ; A Synopsis of Lectures on the Principal Doctrines of 
Seventh-day Adventists) you will find what the men were presenting. 
Another work from Uriah Smith’s pen which might be of interest to you in 
this particular connection is The Sanctuary and the 2300 Days, published 

in 1877. 

Concerning differences of opinion on doctrinal views, I think 
that in the case of James White and Uriah Smith, this occurred primarily 
on the question of the king of the north. Before we take notice of this 

we should observe that when the foundations of Seventh-day Adventist doc- 
trine were laid in the late l8U0's, the great pillars of the temple of 
truth stood out very clearly. There was agreement on the essentials as 
they had to do with the Sabbath, the second advent, the state of the dead, 
and the sanctuary truths. Sister White makes reference to these piLlars 
in Counsels to Writers and Editors on pages 30 and 31 under the title of 
"The Landmarks Defined." 

In subsequent years Bible study and consideration of matters in 
conference led to clarifying an understanding of many other points of 
minor importance. But still there were points of more obscure prophe- 
cies which were not clearly defined. They were not considered vital. 

We will find differences of opinion expressed in the Review and Herald 
by leading workers on some of these points. 

For instance, Uriah Smith, in an editorial in the Review and Herald 
of May 13, 1862, makes reference to the prophecy having to do with the 
power that shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas and 
the glorious holy mountain (See RH May 13, 1862, page 192). Two years 
later there was an unsigned editorial in the Review and Herald of January 


5, I86I4. We would assume this to be from Uriah Smith. you will read 
this on page I48. Here reference is made to Daniel 11:1|5 and it points 
to the papacy. 

When Elder Uriah Smith undertook a verse by verse exposition of 
the books of Revelation and then Daniel, he entered upon a pathway that 
none in our ranks had before traveled. The great basic prophecies were 
clear and there was a unity of opinion on them. When he came to some 
of these points over which there was no well-defined viewpoint aid con- 
cerning which the Spirit of Prophecy was silent, Uriah Smith did the best 
he could, oftentimes dropping back on William Miller or other commentators. 
Sometimes he would walk into George Amadon's office at the Review and 
Herald and ask, “George, how would you do this?” Then the two would sit 
down and discuss some text together. Uriah Smith was a scholar; he did 
good work; but when it comes to some of these minor points, there have 
always been differences of opinion among Seventh-day Adventists. &nd we 

have endeavored to minimize these differences because they did not have 
to do with the pillars and the firm platform. 

The time when the conflict between James White’s views and Uriah 
Smith's views came before the public was in connection with the great 
camp meeting of 1878 and the General Conference Session which was held 
in connection with it. Concerning this experience my father, Elder 
W. C. White, wrote to Elder L. E. Froom on May 12, 1930. W. C. White 
was the third son of James and Ellen White. 

"Regarding the views of Elder James White on the king of 
the north, I can only give a brief outline of a very interesting 
experience. In order to give anything which approaches to a 
correct view of this experience, you must take into consideration 
that Elder White was an Adventist preacher for many years before 
he was a S. D. Adventist, and by study of the literature of the 
I8I4I4 movement, you will find that prominent writers took the 
position that Rome was the king of the north, and in this undoubt- 
edly Elder White was to a considerable extent in agreement. 

"Another matter you must consider is this, — Elder White was 
not primarily a theologian. He vras a business man, a publisher, 
and an administrator of Conference affairs, and did not have time 
to give to theological questions that study which he greatly 
desired to do. 

"From 1872 to 1878 his soul was filled with the burden of 
helping S. D. Adventists to understand and accept the necessary 
burdens of the broadening work which was laid before them through 
revelation. The Battle Creek College was built largely with 
borrowed money. During 1872 and 1873 Elders Haskell and Butler 
obtained many pledges for the college, but we did not have at that 
time such a system as we now have for following up and making 

"With the assurance felt by our leading men in these pledges, 
the college was largely built with borrowed money. Our people 
were in the habit of depositing their money with the Review and 
Herald and the Review and Herald lent many thousands to the college 
and the sanitarium. 


•'During 1677 and 1878 Elder White carried a tremendous bur- 
den of soul over the matter of securing payment of the pledges 
and clearing the college from debt, and he came up to the General 
Conference of 1878 , held in the Buttle Creek fair grounds in a 
big pavilion standing very near where Dr. Kellogg's mansion now 
stands (on Wood Street — now gone), with the determination to do 
everything in his power to help our brethren to get broader views 
and to make greater sacrifices. 

"During the earlier part of this year or possibly the last 
of 1877, there appeared in the Review an article by Elder Uriah 
Smith under the title 'Without Excuse. » This you will read with 
deep interest because it intimates that the existing war between 
Russia and Turkey was probably the beginning of Armageddon. This 
might have passed like many other Review editorials without ser- 
ious results, but at the beginning of the great camp meeting in 
which was combined the annual session of the General conference 
and the Michigan Conference and the annual meetings of the Review 
and Herald and the sanitarium and the college, with representatives 
from all parts of the field, Elder Smith in one of his earliest 
discourses presented in a very thrilling way the same thoughts as 
were in the editorial. 

"To Elder White this was a great shock because if the logic 
of Elder Snith's discourse was taken seriously the people would 
naturally conclude that Elder White's burden was too late in the 
day and entirely out of place. 

"The natural result of the full acceptance of Elder Smith's 
article and sermon would be for our brethren to say that the end 
is at hand. Take an armful of tracts, go out and distribute them, 
and then watch for the Son of Man in heaven. The acceptance of 
this view would undermine all the plans and all the efforts that 
Elder White was making to clear the debt from our institutions, 
and to get our people to adopt broader views and make stronger 
efforts for the promulgation of the truth. 

"In response to this, Elder White walked into the pulpit and 
presented the old, old view regarding the king of the north. 

"Both Elder Smith and Elder jhite were seriously in error in 
presenting their views without counsel, but Elder White was the 
most in error because it was his discourse that made it plain to 
the people that our leaders were not in agreement. The day fol- 
lowing or possibly the second day during the season of prayer in 
their tent. Sister White was taken off in vision and shown very 
many things which you will find in the published testimony as gi ven 
at that date, and among other things she was given a severe reproof 
for Elder White for taking a course that would le ad the people to 
observe differences of opinion and to cherish lack of confidence. 

"During the few months preceding this meeting I had read 
Thoughts on Daniel and Thoughts on Revelation by Elder Uriah Smith 
I loved the writer; I admired his style; I loved his teaching; and 


I was shocked when Elder White presented another view regarding 
the king of the north. One day I said to him, 'Father, I have 
just read Elder Smith's books and his exposition seems clear to 
me. Do you really believe that Rome is the king of the north? 1 
His answer was, 'I think Elder Smith is going too fast in his ex- 
position, and I thought it was time to present something to check 
the current of belief that what is transpiring was the beginning 
of Armageddon.* 

"In later years men have argued that Elder White and Elder 
Wilcox and others holding somewhat similar views were wrong be- 
cause Elder White was reproved, but I was never able to find any 
evidence that the vision given at the camp meeting in 1873 threw 
any light on the doctrinal controversy, but it did through a 
flood of light upon the way our brethren should treat one another 
in presenting Bible doctrines." — w. C. White Letter to L- E. Froom, 
May 12, 1930. 

We have one published reference in the writings of Ellen G. White 
to this experience although it is not named. If you will turn to Counsels 
to Writers and Editors, pages 76, 77? you will find this material under 
the side-heading "Differing Views on Minor Points." Please read this 
carefully because it brings to view points much more important than the 
rightness or wrongness of the views held by men on these minor points. 

But now, in the interests of filling out the story, we go back to 
the record of 1877 and 1878. Elder James White in the Review and Herald 
of November 29, 1877, in an editorial on page 172, wrote a column and a 
half under the heading of "Unfulfilled Prophecy." It opens with these 
significant wcrds: 

"Fulfilled prophecy may be understood by the Bible student. 

He can compare history with prophecy and find a complete fit as 
the glove to the hand, it having been made for it. But in ex- 
position of unfulfilled prophecy, where the history is not writ- 
ten, the student should put forth his propositions with not too 
much positiveness, lest he find himself straying in the field of 

"There are those who think more of future truth than of 
present truth. They see but little light in the path in which 
they walk, but think they see great light ahead of them. 

"Positions taken upon the Eastern question are based upon 
prophecies which have not yet their fulfillment. Here we should 
tread lightly, and take positions carefully, lest we be found 
removing the landmarks fully estaolished in the advent movement. 
It may be said that there is a general agreement upon this sub- 
ject, and that all eyes are turned toward the war now in progress 
between Turkey and Russia as the fulfillment of that portion of 
prophecy which will give great confirmation of faith in the soon 
loud cry and close of our message. But what will be the result 
of this positiveness in unfulfilled prophecies should things not 


come out as very confidently expected, is an anxious question." 

— James White in Review and Herald , Nov. 29 , 1877. 

It was a year later that the conference was held at which time 
there was an open break between James White and Uriah Smith on this ques- 
tion. It was at this meeting on Sabbath, Sept. 28, 1878, that James White 
spoke for 70 minutes answering the important question, "Where Are We?" 
Writing of this in the Review and Herald of October 3j 1878, on page 116, 
James White says: "We traced down the several lines of prophecy in Daniel 

2, 7, 8, and 11, showing that all the specifications of these proohetic 
chains have been fulfilled excepting the crowning event of prophecy, the 
coming of the Son of Man." 

In this report, he summarizes a portion of his presentation as 

"Again, the last three of these four universal empires are 
symbolized in the eighth chapter of Daniel by the ram with two 
horns. Media and Persia; the goat, Grecia; and the little horn, 

Rome. This horn was to become exceeding great, stand up against 
the Prince of princes at his first advent, and be broken without 
hands at his second advent. We wait the destruction of the man 
of sin by the brightness of the coming of the King of kings. 

"And there is a line of historic prophecy in chapter eleven, 
where the symbols are thrown off, becinning with the kings of Persia, 
and reaching down past Grecia and Rome, to the time when that power 
•shall come to his end, and none shall help him.' If the feet and 
ten toes of the metallic image are Roman, if the beast with ten 
horns that was given to the burning flames of the great day be the 
Roman beast, if the little horn which stood up against the Prince 
of princes be Rome, and if the same field and distance are covered 
by these four prophetic chains, then the last power of the elevmth 
chapter, which is to 'come to his end and none shall help him,* is 
Rome. But if this be Turkey, as some teach, then the toes of the 
image of the second chapter are Turkish, the beast with ten horns 
of the seventh chapter represents Turkey, and it was Turkey that 
stood up against the Prince of princes of the eighth chapter of 
Daniel. True, Turkey is bad enough off; but its waning power and 
its end is the subject of the prophecy of John and not of Daniel. 

"The fulfillment of these lines of prophecy constitutes signs 
of the approaching end. 

"Christ said to those who were rejecting him, *Ye hypocrites, 
ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the 
signs of the times?' Matt. 16:3." — James White in Review and Herald, 
Oct. 3, 1878. 

If you will take the Review and Herald of this date and turn to page 
117 you will find that this presentation is: "to be continued." The facts 
are, no second article appeared. It was between the publication of the 
first article and the time when the second article would be published that 


Ellen White was given the vision calling the attention to the hazards 
and perils of our leaders standing in a divided position before the 

If you are fortunate enough to find a copy of the report of the 
Biblical Institute you will observe that while James White and Uriah 
Smith led out in these, this particular question was not discussed. 

Two documents relating to Uriah Smith are available on request from 
the White Estate. One has to do with the authorship of Thoughts on 
Daniel and the Revelation, and the other Mrs. White's attitude toward 
Uriah Smith. 

While we study the difference of viewpoints in some doctrines as 
they were held by leaders of the cause, I think it would be very profitable 
to study the unity of teaching and the importance of our minimizing the 
differences on the minor points which Ellen White never considered as 
essential to salvation and concerning which little or no light was given 
to her. 

Ellen G. White Estate 
General Conference of 5DA 
Washington, D.C* 

March 11, 1966.